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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 09:04 AM ET, 11/03/2011

The Morning Plum

* Mitt Romney vowed to soften national GOP’s anti-abortion stance: No need for any throat clearing here. This new report in the Post seems like it should be trouble in a GOP primary:

Mitt Romney was firm and direct with the abortion rights advocates sitting in his office nine years ago, assuring the group that if elected Massachusetts governor, he would protect the state’s abortion laws.
The, as the meeting drew to a close, the businessman offered an intriguing suggestion — that he would rise to national prominence in the Republican Party as a victor in a liberal state and could use his influence to soften the GOP’s hard-line opposition to abortion.

The claim is based on detailed notes taken at the meeting. You’d think that this explicit vow to seek national prominence in the quest to soften what has long been one of the most urgently held moral positions of millions of Republican voters would complicate Romney’s quest for that party’s presidential nomination. Romney’s GOP rivals and Obama’s campaign advisers will both likely seize on this to bolster their case against him, given their shared interest in portraying Romney as someone without a moral or ideological core who will say anything to advance his ambitions.

Also: As Ron Fournier notes, this story is a “must read” because it also raises questions about Romney’s strength as a general election candidate: Voters may recoil at someone whose “core beliefs are so hard to pin down.”

* Forty House GOPers want tax hikes to be part of deficit talks: It’s now come to this: Some 40 House Republicans have now signed a letter pleading with the deficit supercommittee’s members to put all forms of revenue increases on the table. That would seem to include — yup — tax hikes.

You’re not supposed to say this, but here goes: Only one party’s leaders are ruling out major concessions on core principles in the quest for compromise. The other party’s leaders favor an approach under which both sides would give up major concessions in the quest for compromise. Indeed, from the point of view of liberals, the latter party is overly willing to trade away core priorities.

* Herman Cain’s meltdown continues apace: With a third woman stepping forward, the lawyer of one of the accusers is now asking the National Restaurant Association for permission to release a statement clarifying that her version of events is rather different from the one Cain has described.

Meanwhile, Cain is thrashing around in a deepening well of anger and paranoia, blaming just about everyone in sight — except himself, of course — for his worsening travails.

* Eyewitness confirms Cain behavior: And now we have our first on the record confirmation from a witness who says he saw Cain’s advances first-hand.

* Herman Cain takedown of the day: Dana Milbank’s takedown of Cain’s handling of the mess is brutal, and this captures his meltdown perfectly:

Cain’s lark has become hard labor. The sunny candidate is now snarling and shouting, and obviously not enjoying himself in the least.

Moral of the story: Politics ain’t as easy as it looks.

* Obama reelect reality check of the day: Nate Silver does a very deep dive into the history of recent presidential campaigns and into Obama’s layers of vulnerability, and reaches this sobering conclusion:

When we look at the last eight elected presidents, only Carter faced a situation worse than Obama’s: approval ratings in the low 30s rather than low 40s, the likelihood rather than the mere possibility of a recession, a primary challenge rather than a clear path to renomination and a crisis in Iran rather than a string of foreign-policy victories. The other seven had stronger fundamentals heading into the election year. This includes the elder Bush...

Bright spot: Silver says that a couple months of good jobs reports, or a weak or ideologically whacked out GOP opponent, would make Obama the favorite again.

* Terrible polling on taxes: Much attention will be paid today to this new Quinnipiac poll finding that 49 percent say the deficit should be reduced with only spending cuts, while 38 percent say it should be reduced with some tax increases.

But this polling tells us nothing. Respondents are only asked whether they’d favor generic “tax increases,” and aren’t even told who those tax increases would target, i.e., the wealthy. Worse, respondents are only given a straight choice — either reduce the deficit with spending cuts, or with tax hikes — rather than being offered a clear choice of a mix of the two. That’s the actual Democratic position, and it has broad majority support in many polls that represent it clearly. Just awful.

* First bad poll for Occupy Wall Street, though the Tea Party fares worse: Today’s Quinnipiac poll is the first survey I’ve seen where the numbers are upside down for the protests: A plurality has an unfavorable view of them, 39-30, including a plurality of independents.

But a full 30 percent have still not made up their minds about Occupy Wall Street, and more (45 percent) view the Tea Party unfavorably. Also: These findings are at odds with several other national polls. Still: People shouldn’t have their heads in the sand about the possibility that public opinion could turn on the protests.

* But another poll finds support for Occupy Wall Street growing: CNN reports on a new national poll that finds a nine-point jump in support for the movement, which is now at 37 percent — and, crucially, this boost came as more people say they’re aware of it.

* Obama has wiped out GOP’s advantage on national security: Doyle McManus on how Obama’s foreign policy successes have left Republicans confused, disoriented, incoherent, and on the defensive on an issue that they once had an advantage on for decades.

What makes this development even more startling is that Obama’s victory in the 2008 primary was seen as a triumph for the anti-war faction of the Democratic Party, which was long blamed for the party’s weaknesses on the issue.

* And the inequality-deniers take another hit: Paul Krugman swiftly and cleanly debunks the most recent argument from the inequality-deniers, demonstrating in tidy chart form that inequality is not just about “education,” but about the top one percent pulling away from everyone else.

What else is happening?

By  |  09:04 AM ET, 11/03/2011

 
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